Thursday, May 3, 2012

Knowing vs Showing


How do we primarily know Christianity is true?

I think we can safely take a cogent position that we primarily "know" Christian truths through the witness of the Holy Spirit and Scripture.  First, lets look at some of what Paul had to say.

Paul’s position
 Romans 8:16 Paul writes, “The Spirit himself testifies with our

spirit that we are God’s children.[1]” The word “testify” here in the
NIV84 translation, in the Greek means according the BDAG Greek lexicon, “to provide supporting evidence by testifying, confirm,

support by testimony”[2] Kiddles Theological dictionary expands on what “testify” (transliterated summartureō) means by stating that it,” …refers not merely to the establishment of events or actual relations or facts of experience on the basis of direct personal knowledge. It signifies also the proclamation of views or truths of which the speaker is convinced. It thus relates to things which by

their very nature cannot be submitted to empirical investigation.[3]” Paul uses a similar word of the self-authenticating witness of the Spirit in 1 Thessalonians 1:5 penning, “because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy

Spirit and with deep conviction….” [4]  The Greek word plērophoria,  is translated as “conviction” in the NIV or “assurance” in the NKJV, describes the Holy Spirit's witness as, “state of complete certainty, full assurance,

certainty.” [5]  The Liddell and Scott lexicon agrees with this

meaning.[6]     

John’s position
Apostle John agrees with Paul’s assessment that God testifies to us.  John says the apostles’ witness is valid, but that God’s is greater.  John writes, “For there are three that testify: 8 the Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement. 9 We accept man’s testimony, but God’s testimony is greater because it is

the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son.[7]” Philosopher and Theologian William Lane Craig, research professor at Biola University, comments on what John means in this passage.  Craig says that:

The “water” here probably refers to Jesus’ baptism, and the “blood” to His crucifixion, those being the two events which marked the beginning and end of his earthly ministry. “The testimony of men” is therefore nothing less than the apostolic testimony to the events of Jesus’ life and ministry… still the inner testimony of the Holy Spirit is even greater! As Christians we have the testimony of God within us, the Holy Spirit who bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.[8]


What about showing others that Christianity is true?

Respectfully, some say that showing non-believers that is Christianity is true is a waist of time.  That we should concentrate on faith, preaching, etc. In my view, I think this is a hasty conclusion for the following reasons.  1) It seems that the apostles directly commanded we give a defense for Christian truths in certain circumstances in a respectful manner(1 Peter 3:15, Phil 1:7, 16) (2) The apostles showed that those circumstances do arise when evidence needs to be offered for the Holy Spirit to use to show non-believers the truth of the Resurrection or other Christian doctrines(Acts 17:16-34).  Thus the difference of knowing and showing hopefully starts to come to light through my fallible    explanation.  Consider the reasons.



(The pic above is Paul debating with the Greeks as reported in Acts 17[9])



[1] The Holy Bible: New International Version, electronic ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1996), Ro 8:16.
[2] William Arndt, Frederick W. Danker and Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 3rd ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 957.
[3] , vol. 4, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, ed. Gerhard Kittel, Geoffrey W. Bromiley and Gerhard Friedrich, electronic ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1964-), 478.
[4] The Holy Bible: New International Version, electronic ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1996), 1 Th 1:5.
[5] William Arndt, Frederick W. Danker and Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 3rd ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 827.
[6] Liddell and Scott come to the conclusion that plērophoria means,” fulness of assurance, certainty .” H.G. Liddell, A Lexicon : Abridged from Liddell and Scott's Greek-English Lexicon (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1996), 647.
[7] The Holy Bible: New International Version, electronic ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1996), 1 Jn 5:7–9.
[8] William Lane Craig, Reasonable Faith : Christian Truth and Apologetics, Rev. ed. (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 1994), 34.
[9] Horne, Charles and Julius Bewer. The Bible and Its Story, Volume 10: Acts–Epistles, Apostles to Revelation. New York, NY: Francis R. Niglutsch, 1910.

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